Last year, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell, a.k.a. America, released two significant archival collections bookending their still-thriving career. Archives Vol. 1 presented 15 previously unreleased alternate versions, early mixes, demos, rehearsals and outtakes spanning the halcyon period between America's 1971 debut album America and 1975's Hearts. These, of course, featured Beckley and Bunnell in addition to original member Dan Peek. Lost and Found pressed fast-forward on the band's history with 10 tracks recorded by Beckley and Bunnell between 2000 and 2011. Both of these collections produced and compiled by singer-songwriter Jeff Larson, were indispensable for fans and collectors of the band's sun-flecked oeuvre. Now, Lost and Found has come to vinyl in a special edition currently available for purchase at America's concerts.
The songs, though recorded over a decade-plus period, add up to a fine, new America album blending both upbeat anthems and evocative, melancholy ballads. All but one of the songs have been written or co-written by Gerry Beckley who, as ever, offers up his considerable, seemingly effortless melodicism. Lost and Found couldn't have a better opening track than his "Driving," a road ode. It was Dewey Bunnell who composed the ultimate such song, "Ventura Highway," and indeed, "Driving" recalls the spirit of that America classic without being derivative; indeed, the breezy melody is ironic counterpoint to a dark-tinged, rueful lyric. The arrangement, too, is top-notch, from the surf-styled drum introduction to the shimmering guitars and beyond. The warm sound of vinyl makes "Driving" sound even more like a lost America classic.
Bunnell sings lead on the reflective co-write "All in All," a clean, contemporary production that too benefits from the crisp sound of vinyl. Beckley sets his musical partner's lyrical meditations ("All in all, it's been a good time...") to a melody that's, fittingly, equal parts pensive and contented. The upbeat, infectious co-write "Out on the Street" is quintessential America, with their voices locked tightly in harmony over a smooth and mellow tune and a bright lyric. The production has sleek modernity but the song would have fit nicely onto any of the group's early albums. It's one of the strongest tracks here.
A low-key, ruminative atmosphere prevails on "One Horse Town" and the moody "Many Colors" (both penned by Beckley) as well as the co-written "The Quiet Inside." The latter boasts attractive harmonies and crystalline guitars from the duo as well as one of the album's most beguiling melodies. It's not all downbeat, however. There's a sweetness and playful quality to Beckley's uptempo "Don't Let Her Close Your Eyes," which like "One Horse Town" and the rhythmic ballad "Green" has subtle brass embellishments arranged by Nick Lane. "Don't Let Her..." also has a vocal arrangement that might remind listeners of America's California brothers-in-arms, CSNY. Dewey Bunnell's one solo composition, "Dream Come True," is a catchy roadhouse rocker rooted in the blues which practically invites singing along. The laconic closing track co-written by both members, "Early Days," is a happily nostalgic trip down memory lane with banjo and horns.
The singer-musicians of America has top-notch support on Lost and Found, with contributions from Hank Linderman, Dave Storrs and Larry Treadwell on electric guitars; Bob DiChiro and Chicago's Jason Scheff on bass; Ryland Steen, Brian Young, Jim McCarty and Andrew Golomb on drums; Bobby Woods on organ; arranger Nick Lane on trombone and euphonium; and Charles Adelphia on oboe.
Mike Romanowski at Coast Recorders has beautifully mastered the collection for vinyl, showcasing the mix's well-defined instrumental separation and vivid stereo. Lost and Found is currently available in CD and DD formats on Amazon.com, but you can pick up the 12-inch vinyl release at one of America's tour stops. The band has dates booked throughout the U.S.A. through September (as of this writing). Visit VenturaHighway.com for further information! As with Archives, here's hoping that a second volume of Lost and Found is on the way from the venerable pop-rock troubadours.
America, Lost and Found (America Records, 2015)
- All in All
- One Horse Town
- The Quiet Inside
- Many Colors
- Dream Come True
- Don't Let Her Close Your Eyes
- Out on the Street
- Early Days
All tracks previously unreleased.